Second Chances Month!
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Are you ready to move forward with others in your congregation or community to start a new compassionate ministry? The U.S. Missions Research & Resource Center offers ideas on this page for starting a new ministry in your church. Check back often as we add new articles, suggested books, and ideas.
To get started, you'll want to read "Starting a New Ministry in the Local Church," a compilation of ideas, encouragement, and things to be aware of as your church establishes new ways to serve your neighborhood and community. Not quite ready to start a full-fledged outreach, or only have a few people to work with? You can still do something, often by partnering with existing agencies, nonprofits, and other churches. As an example, check out our document, "Ideas for Churches: Human Trafficking Ministry," which gives suggestions for those with limited time, those with more time or resources, or those who want to partner with existing programs.
We want to hear your ideas, too. Use the contact information below to send your suggested resources or testimonies of how God has worked in your church or group to enable new ministry.
Wondering if a smaller church can provide effective compassionate ministry? Check out this article about "How to Encourage the Gift of Time for Service," a church's story of how members are encouraged to give a balance of time, talent, and treasure. Also check out "Building Generosity in a Financially Challenged Church," from Leadership Network, encouraging ideas from a church that has taught its congregation to think generously with their time, talent, and resources even in challenging circumstances.
Volunteers are the heart of many successful ministries, but they can be susceptible to fatigue and burnout. From the CRC network, "Volunteer Care that Supports Faith Formation and Discipleship" offers suggestions for helping your volunteers receive a healthy spiritual experience as they assist in ministry. See also "10 Tips for Recognizing Church Volunteers."
How do you know when God is leading you to move forward with ministry? Are you just responding emotionally, or stepping out in faith? This article from Vital, although written in the context of personal ministry, offers insight for any time someone wants to be sure of God's leading. Read "Feeling or Faith" here.
Is it ever too late to get involved in ministry? From the Pentecostal Evangel archives: "No Barriers" - the stories of three women who felt the call to ministry and became endorsed as chaplains, after the "traditional" retirement age. (Update: the article was written in 2012, when two of these women were 65 years of age. They are still actively working as chaplains, and the 80-year-old only recently retired!)
Community chaplains go to workplaces, restaurants, entertainment venues, and other places where people are likely to have spiritual needs but unlikely to seek help at a church service. In "A New Kind of Chaplain," U.S. Missions Chaplains Nathan and Cindy Timmerman explain a 30-hour training path making chaplaincy status attainable for busy lay people wanting to increase their effectiveness in ministry in their communities.
Many communities lack fellowship opportunities for veterans--a place where veterans can connect with others who understand the complexities of transitioning from military life or the stress of coping with the aftereffects of war and deployment. This blog post, "Vet to Vet Discussion Group" suggests ways to start serving this important group of citizens.
Reaching out to prison inmates and following up with them after release is an important way to help rebuild families broken by incarceration and prevent recidivism. "How to Start A Prison Ministry" from Hope Aglow Ministries is a thorough introduction, including suggestions for involving every age group in your church.
Small church? Limited space, resources, or personnel? You don't have to do it all--in fact, sometimes displaying unity with other community organizations is not only efficient; it's a great witness. Read more in Outreach Magazine's article, "Building Better Partnerships." In a related blog post from the Christian Reformed Church, we are reminded that even secular resources are God's, and that it is good stewardship to be aware of government agencies and other groups to partner with them and work efficiently. See "Deacons Must Be Knowledgeable about Local Community Resources."
From the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs, free downloadable booklet "Faith and Communities in Action" answers many common questions about faith-based and community initiatives, including detailed action steps.
Don't try to go it alone when starting a mental health support or addiction recovery ministry - "One Voice, One Community: Building Strong and Effective Partnerships Among Community and Faith Organizations" is available from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as a booklet/CD or as a digital download; both are free.
Churches looking to work in partnership with government, civic, and nonprofit groups for a common cause in their communities may benefit from Leadership Network's "Raising Your Collaborative Intelligence Q & A". Part 3 in a series following a popular webinar, this video discussion covers questions from church leaders on how to partner effectively and without sacrificing their faith-based identity.